Everyone is quite aware that the world-wide Covid-19 Virus pandemic has twisted and disrupted myriad singles’ and family’s lifestyle and livelihood on top of the normal medical, financial and personal losses. There’s a bright side. Recovery often offers hidden benefits. A friend who was forced to find another job reported that he likes his new job much better because it offers advancement and is even closer to home. But it goes deeper yet.
Our family actually benefited as we adjusted to the surprising uprooting by our father’s desertion. The adverse situation forced the four of us still at home to grow quickly. We adjusted to having to walk or bike everywhere. Just teenagers, we accepted our responsibility to contribute to financial needs and link arms in transforming a small 3-room deserted shack into a livable residence. (see blog 4-20). We never discussed that we were poor or mistreated. Mom wasn’t bitter toward Dad, so neither were we. We just got to work and trusted Mom’s decisions. We had no time for bickering, only cooperation.
In our reminiscing, we credit the 70-years-ago dilemma for paving the way for us to discover our own expanded purposes in life. We all worked our way through college, found mates and careers and developed personal relationships with the Lord. Best of all, we learned to be dependable and sensitive mates, parents and grandparents, copying our mom.
Let’s look again at our prototype, Ruth, our mother. Working full time, single-parenting
three teenagers and a first grader, checking on her invalid mother who lived close by, and with little discretionary time she never said, “Woe is me”; “I have no time to myself” or How can I make it?” “I don’t have time to listen”. And, I just realized, at 43 years of age, she was also grieving the loss of her husband of 20 years whom she loved dearly. We don’t remember Mom ever in a bad mood and she never lectured us. We were normal kids and certainly weren’t perfect. She taught by example of word and deed. Our quiet mother, who had never been a wage earner, was forced to shoulder the heavy responsibility of financial and physical care of her children. This was her Expanded Purpose #1.
After a year of the greenhouse job, Mom was fortunate to be the first one hired at the ALCOA plant as the matron of the ladies’ restroom. Quickly, the girls discovered Mom’s listening ear as well as her wise advice whenever they asked. The car-pool workers who picked mom up also became trusted friends who benefited from her positive attitude. Thus, expanded Purpose #2.
She and her older sister, Hazel, began to co-teach Children’s Sunday School and the 2nd hour for Children’s’ worship. They spent Saturdays getting their lesson and room together. Those children, now in their 60’s, applaud Hazel and Ruth’s loving ministry. Expanded Purpose #3.
After several years, when Hazel and Royal built a new house in the semi-circle of Annis Court, Mom and David, now a teenager, moved into the vacated two-story house. David, involved with the youth at church often brought them to Mom’s for their activities. Expanded purpose # 4.
When Uncle Royal, died suddenly, Mom and Hazel were put in a quandary of how they’d get to church or appointments. They decided to buy a car together. When Mom, 50 years old, told brother John, who lived 30 minutes away, their plans and that she’d need to get a driver’s license, he took them car shopping and began Mom’s driving lessons. At that time, Jim and I happened to be spending six weeks with her after he completed some schooling, so he was free to also give her some driving lessons. For years, Mom provided rides to friends and neighbors to doctor appointments and to the grocery store. Expanded Purpose #5.
Fifteen years later, when Mom retired from ALCOA at age 65, she was finally free to do what she had always dreamed--become a Red Cross Visitor to the VA Hospital and 3 local rest homes. Her stories of these visits which also included getting acquainted with family members, were very inspiring. Expanded purpose #6.
If we children wanted to talk to Mom on the phone, we’d have to call before 6:30 in the morning or we’d miss her for the day. Mom quit driving and making visits when she was 93 because her license got lost in the mail and she didn’t want to take a driving test.
By then, Mom’s six kids lived in different states except Brother John. In all that time, we never heard mom complain about anything; she never said she was lonely, or that life was hard. On a phone call when I was a bit homesick, I said “Oh, Mom we are so far away,” she quipped, “Who moved?” She was famous for her dry humor and one-liners. We children fought for time to be with her; she was our queen. We have deep appreciation and admiration for her unselfish, sacrificial and courageous commitment to keeping her six children together. And especially for her godly example. She never asked our dad for a penny of support. There are many more good accounts of that quietly strong who loved the husband who deserted her, turning her love into compassion.
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind consider it nothing by joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4. This verse says to me that personal growth awaits the play-out of difficulties.
Think about your hardest struggle. Solving the problem could be the source of your strengthened faith. There is no short cut to spiritual maturity.
When life is hard, our innovation kicks in as we attempt new challenges. Taking one day at a time helps us to see the blessing of each day and regard the tough decisions as opportunities to grow stronger in new areas of responsibilities. New challenges keep our brains healthy.
This is a time for celebration of growth in understanding and appreciation as we practice getting along with everyone with God’s enabling.
From the beginning of time everyone has dealt with tremendous troubles, including Joseph (Jesus’s earthly father) as the following poem my nephew, Jim Reed, wrote accurately describes:
MY MARY, UNFAITHFUL
Oh, my Mary, unfaithful,
With child, but not by me.
And then the dream, to keep her as my own.
And the child as my own,
he who would save us from our sins.
Now my life is no longer my own,
Overshadowed by my God, my savior, my son.
Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31